By Genevieve Aningo
Nigeria Customs Service(NCS) incurred revenue losses of 135billion to strings of Federal Government duty concessions, exemptions and waivers in seven years to the Niger Delta Development Commission(NDDC) in what has been described as a major encumbrance to Customs administration in Nigeria.
This observation was made at the book launch by Kirikiri Lighter Terminal Customs Command in conjunction with Comptroller (Dr) Ben Nkem Oramalugo, last week in Lagos.
In his remarks, the author of the newly launched book-“Customs Administration in Nigeria”, Compt. (Dr) Ben Oramalugo asserted between 2004 and May 2010, NCS lost a total of 134,986,095,527.81 naira to NDDC as waivers, explaining that
“I wrote this book to expose the unpatriotic dealings and atrocities of some Nigerians; if you read the book you would see the havoc they committed in exemptions as waivers. Between 2003- 2014, N1.4 trillion was lost through waivers. NCS ikot-Ekpene was given almost 1bilion in waivers and exemptions in 2007 but they were not producing anything”.
Oramalugo in page 122 of his book, gave a breakdown of the duty exemption to NDDC as N11,478,137,655.38 for 2004; N15,989,292,537.74 in 2005;N36,460,647,307.65 in 2006;N10,271,222,979,.00 in2007;N21,690,393,999.04 for 2008; N16,424,804,924.00 for 2009 and N22,671,596,125.00 for five months in 2010.
According to him, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) has refused to remit to NCS about N45billion as duty payable on imported petroleum products, while arguing that these losses also accounts for low revenue collection for NCS, adding that Nigeria’s losses to international conventions is huge, citing the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme(ETLS) where the losses amounts to N12.6billion between 2003 and 2009. Imports from ECOWAS member states attract zero duty payment because Nigeria is a signatory to the convention.
While identifying inadequate funding, weak legislative framework, proliferation of agencies at ports, inadequate infrastructure and revenue loss spurred by waivers as challenges of modern customs administration in Nigeria, he further explained that he wrote the book, to educate officers, stakeholders in trade activities and the general public about the activities of Customs.
“The whole idea of this book is for Customs officers, clearing agents and Nigerians to know the stories about Customs. It’s time for us to tell our own stories; the public’s image of Customs is that it is corrupt but without Customs, it would be difficult to administer Nigeria.
“We have the problem of poor reading culture in Nigeria. We are now having children that are ignorant about the historical background of Nigeria. They don’t know about the Civil War, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello, Obafemi Awolowo and other Nigerian great leaders. So we have what we call ‘historical lacuna’ among the children. When you don’t know your roots, you might never know where you are going to. The same thing is happening is Nigeria Customs Service as many officers that joined the NCS don’t know the history of Customs. They don’t know that NCS started in 1891 and started even before the Nigerian Army and Police. It was Customs that sustained Nigeria from 1960 to 1966 and even during the colonial times,”he said
Oramalugo described his book as ‘Magnum Opus’ meaning great work and recommended it for purchase by all customs officers. “In my experience, many young officers lack the theoretical knowledge about customs activities . They don’t know about Customs conventions, 1961 convention on diplomatic rules , diplomatic impunity, Customs and Excise Management Act(CEMA), etc. Therefore, I am advocating to our Customs training Institutions that international politics should be taught to Customs officers because some of them are in darkness.”
The book reviewer, Deputy Comptroller, Olarewaju Olumoh who observed that the book has six chapters of 237 pages described the book as a great research work, adding,”I recommend this book first to the strategic department of Nigeria Customs Service, all officers of the NCS and students of financial department in institutions and the general public. In all, this is a very brilliant work , we have other chapters that amplified more on the success of the Customs service- the revenue we have been generating, the seizures being recorded, illicit drugs being intercepted and the efforts of the customs officers in promoting the Federal Government ban on rice importation”.
Dr Benjamin Anaemene of Faculty of History and International Studies, Redeemer’s University, gave citation on Oramalugo while Customs Area Controller(CAC) of the Command, Compt. H.J Swomen Kirikiri was represented by Deputy Compt. Enforcement, U A Seriki; former CAC Kirikiri Lighter Terminal between 2003 and March 2004, Compt A.A Nwadike(rtd); Mrs. Felicia Oramalugo, the author’s wife as well as many other NCS officers and stakeholders graced the occasion .